I’ve recently had a sleepless night where I burned the late night oil looking at motorcycles to buy. After losing out on a Buell Ulysses with 80,000 miles and a Yamaha CS5, I got the sudden hankering for something offbeat. I’ve already owned a scooter with a pop-up headlight, but what about a motorcycle? As it turns out, Suzuki dabbled with pop-up headlights in the 1980s with one of the raddest motorcycles you’ll ever see. This is the Suzuki GSX750S Katana.
The Suzuki Katana’s story starts in the early 1980s. Back then, as Motorcycle Classics notes, Suzukis were known for their speed, but their designs felt stale to the buying public. To rectify this, Suzuki brought on German BMW motorcycle designer Hans Muth. His Bavarian Target Design firm, consisting of himself, Jan Fellstrom and Hans-Georg Kasten, would breathe fresh air into Suzuki’s design.
Or more specifically, Muth’s goal was to design something so out there that it would draw people into showrooms.
In late 1980, Target’s work hit the road as the GS1000SZ Katana. And Suzuki didn’t just release a bike with a distinctive design. Suzuki claimed the Katana to be the fastest mass-production motorcycle. Even though it had the same running gear as the GSX1100E, the Katana was found to hit 147 mph to the GSX1100E’s 142 mph.
Suzuki’s futuristic Katana was a success, but it wouldn’t stop there. Appearing in 1984 was the version of the Katana that you are reading this for.
Selling alongside the big liter Katana were smaller 550cc, 650cc and 750cc versions for those who liked the looks but didn’t need the power. These would get updates over time and in 1984, buyers would be treated to one of the coolest looking motorcycles of the 1980s.
The Suzuki GSX750S came with a GSX750E’s 16-valve 747cc inline four making 84 HP. That’s good power for an 1980s 750, but the star of the show is the bike’s design.
Suzuki redesigned the motorcycle to be smooth and uncluttered. Where the older models had turn indicators that stuck out and a big blocky headlight, this one would be all flush. Yep, look closely and you’ll see the turn indicators integrated into the fairing. And yep, you get a fantastic pop-up headlight.
The motorcycle also boasted a lower seat height than previous models and higher bars for better comfort. Suzuki managed to shave 35 pounds off of the thing, too.
You may be wondering why you haven’t seen any of these in America and the answer is that we just didn’t get them. We did get the stylish Katana without the flush bits and the pop-up headlight. Bradley even wrote about a hot rod Katana in 2020.
Instead, if you want one of these you’ll have to find one in another country. Thankfully, they do show up in Japan, waiting for you to import one.
As for the Katana in America, in the late 1980s the name got applied to the unrelated Suzuki GSX-F, where it stuck around until 2006. The Katana returned once again in 2019 with a design that calls back to the original.